Increasing Organic Agriculture in Ontario Using Local Food Distribution Systems
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Various studies have found that organic agricultural methods produce healthier soils with a higher content of organic matter, cause less soil erosion and create less environmental pollution from chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Farms that use organic production methods may also have a greater biodiversity of birds, predatory insects, soil organisms and plants, and emit less greenhouse gases due to lower fossil energy inputs compared to conventional agricultural methods. Studies have also found that purchasing local food reduces the greenhouse gas emissions associated with food transportation, and benefits rural communities and economies. This study seeks to promote organic production methods and local food systems in order to take advantage of the environmental and social benefits of both in order to decrease the negative environmental impact of our food production and distribution systems. The purpose of this study is to determine whether supporting the development of certain types of local food distribution systems can increase the amount of organic agricultural production in Ontario. The main objective of this study is to develop policy recommendations that may be effective in increasing the availability of local, organic food in Ontario and in supporting the development of the local food distribution systems that are used most by organic producers. A high percentage of organic farms use a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) sales method and 75 percent of CSA farms in Ontario use organic production methods. CSA farms are mainly concentrated in five areas across Ontario. These five areas each have an established customer base, existing infrastructure, and individuals who have knowledge of alternative sales methods and distribution systems. These areas also have a strong network of communication between local producers and the communities that exist in these areas are educated about local food. All of these factors increase the success of a potential local food distribution system. For these reasons, the five areas identified in this study are prime locations for developing local food distribution systems.